I’d like to think I’m an expert at the “Low Checking Account Balance Prayer.” I also call it the “Money Prayer.” We’ve moved and changed jobs enough that I should be able to proclaim a few prayers to settle things down with a suave confidence that emanates from my spiritual authority over low balances.
We just passed through such a time recently. My wife moved into a new job, and for a few months our financial security rested entirely on me and my fledgling business—something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We did all right, but I finally hit the point where I felt the need to pray the “money prayer.”
There are two basic ways to say the money prayer. I have a feeling that God only likes one of them, but I’m usually willing to give them both a shot just in case.
The first version of the money prayer involves a simple formula: Hi God + we have no money + please help us = waiting for a response.
The second version adopts a slightly different approach: Hi God + use me to bless others + please give me what I need to do that = response.
The more I ask for my own provision, the less I see happening. The more I ask to be used as an instrument to bless others, the more I see God doing both for and through me.
Saying that God wants to use us to bless others isn’t exactly breaking new ground. If I tried to teach a seminary course based on this premise, I’d meet a room full of vigorous nods and then a rash of yawns.
The difference for me is that I sometimes compartmentalize my work and paycheck from “real” ministry. God wants my customers to feel cared-for, he wants my colleagues to return home with a greater sense of peace, and he wants to support life-changing ministries with the money I earn from my work.
As soon as I started asking God to send what I needed in order to bless others, my work changed. I discovered ways to connect colleagues with the help they needed. Prayers for provision that could bless others turned into extra work that enabled me to increase my generosity.
Only asking God for provision is like asking God to replace himself. My self-centered prayers are really something like this: “Dear God, life is hard, and I need money to take care of me. Please send money to provide the security you can’t provide.”
Asking God to use me to bless others puts us both in the right place. This places God in charge of my needs, the needs of others, and the overall direction for my life.
When I need more money, I really need more of God. I need to stick myself right at the center of his will. If God can use me, then I’ll never lack anything I need.
The provision of more money will cloud my vision of God. The provision of more God turns everything in my life into a tool that God can use as he pleases.
The trouble is that some days I still think prayer would be a lot easier if I had a bit more money.